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Previewing Alamo Drafthouse's arrival in Kalamazoo
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Earlier this month, Newschannel 3 broke the news that Alamo Drafthouse would be moving in to the former Rave Movie Theater building in downtown Kalamazoo.
Alamo's plans for the theater include adding a restaurant and bar to enhance the movie-going experience, and they promise we've never seen anything like it in West Michigan.
From first-run movies to cult classics, and from burgers and fries to tex-mex, when Alamo Drafthouse takes over the old Rave Theater, owner Tim League is projecting success and rave reviews in Kalamazoo.
"It feels great; this is what our brand is about--that neighborhood theater. Our flagship here in Austin is our downtown theater; it's part of the vibrant downtown entertainment scene," League said via telephone. "Wherever we can find a spot that's right in the heart of a community, that's where we want to be."
League and his wife opened the first Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas in 1995, unloading hundreds of seats and a big screen projector from a truck with their own hands.
That single theater has grown into a chain, popular for its open bar, regional beers, special events, and Golden Globes after-party atmosphere.
"It will be a mix of programming, of big, first-run movies, and independent films," League said. "So, in addition to that, we'll do classic films, foreign language films, and documentaries."
"We make our doors open to any and all film festivals and that sort of thing, so it's a pretty diverse mix," he added.
While the movies may be the main attraction, food is a close second.
Chef Trish Eichelberger is the regional concept chef for Alamo Drafthouse, and is in charge of special menus. When we spoke to her, she was in the middle of putting together a menu for screenings of Silence of the Lambs.
"We're bringing it back, and bringing it back in style by doing a four-course meal with the movie," Eichelberger said.
If it sounds like fun, Alamo is counting on that--and as the company counts up profits at new theaters across the country, they're banking on making a big splash and big bucks in Kalamazoo's new, young, revitalized downtown.
"From my perspective, I think there's a really strong economy; I like the proximity to the university," said League. "We've gone up to take a look and scout around. I like what's happening in the downtown sector as well."
He also compared Kalamazoo favorably to Alamo's original home, saying, "a lot of the things that make Austin really cool, what drew me to Austin in the first place, I see in Kalamazoo as well."
Alamo Drafthouse is currently in the process of obtaining a liquor license, and is hoping to open downtown sometime this summer.